This class provides an opportunity for you to grapple with some challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, concepts and problems relating to information behavior. You will demonstrate your ability to do so through a combination of papers and participation assignments.
- Paper 1: Analyzing your own Information Behavior = 25%
- Paper 2: Researching a Population's Information Behavior = 25%
- Blog Posts (12 @ 2.5%) = 30%
- Class Participation = 13%
- Discussion Leading = 7%
Paper 1: Analyzing your own Information Behavior (25%)
The purpose of this assignment is for you to identify and analyze an information behavior; for you to apply the various information-related concepts from the course readings to that information behavior; for you to apply (a) a model and (b) a theory or paradigm systematically to that behavior; and for you to discuss how your view of that information behavior was different depending on which model, theory, or paradigm you used to analyze it.
- Select and describe an information behavior from your life.
- Discuss what this behavior demonstrates about the information sources you use, your information needs, your information seeking, and your other information behavior(s) as discussed in class. Please make a paragraph for each of those concepts -- information, information needs, information seeking, and information behavior -- clearly labeled with subheadings.
- Select (a) a model, and (b) a theory or paradigm that seeks to describe or explain information behavior and analyze your information behavior using (a) the model and (b) the theory or paradigm to interpret your behavior in two different ways. Your presentation of this analysis should be very linear and explicit. You must use additional published literature, beyond what we read in class, to get information about the model and the theory or paradigm you choose.
- Compare and contrast the results of your two analyses. As part of your comparison, answer the following two questions: How did the model and the theory or paradigm affect your interpretation of your information behavior? In what ways were the model and the paradigm or theory useful for explaining your information behavior?
Length: Approximately 3000 words. Due October 24.
Paper 2: Researching a Population's Information Behavior (25%).
The purpose of this paper is for you to review the existing published research literature related to the information behaviors of a population of your choice; to analyze the published research literature for concepts, themes, and major research questions; and to use the research literature to inform the design of a research study.
- Select and describe a user population for which you would like to know more about their information needs, uses, and behaviors (it is acceptable to choose a population discussed in the Case book or in class).
- Find at least 15 references to published research literature related to the information behavior of this population, and use those references to identify, analyze, and discuss the major research questions that have driven past studies into this population's information behavior. Please organize this section thematically by structuring it around these research questions, using subheadings to group the research questions into different topics or themes. While each of your 15 (or more) references should be cited at least once in your paper, please do not organize this section around the references themselves; a good literature review is an analysis of research organized topically or thematically, not a series of individual "book reports".
- Identify the major research questions that have NOT been answered by the existing research (or that need further study, or have not been studied (in detail or at all)), and explain why these questions need (further) study, citing literature to support your arguments.
- Describe and briefly discuss a research study that could (potentially) answer these question(s). What research methodologies would you use? What questions would you ask? How would you analyze the data you gather? How might the results of your analysis improve our understanding of this population's (or others) information behavior? How might the results of your analysis be used to improve information services to this population (or others!)?
Length: Approximately 3000 words. Due December 12.
Procedures for the Papers
- Assignments are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time (EDT or EST, as appropriate) on the dates indicated above. Late assignments will not receive full credit. If you have extenuating circumstances, please contact me ASAP before the due date.
- Please use the QA boards on Blackboard to ask questions about the papers (and feel free to answer your classmates' questions if you can!).
- When the papers are marked, points will be assigned based on the assumption that you have carefully followed, read, and understood not only the assignment descriptions, but also any questions posted to the QA boards on Blackboard. Please do not hesitate to ask for clarifications!
- Papers may be submitted either as individual word processing files (PDF is preferred, but RTF, DOC, and DOCX are also acceptable) or as links to websites (HTML). If you choose to submit a website, please post the URL to your paper in the comments field when submitting the assignment on Bb. If you choose to upload a file, please make sure your surname is part of the filename (e.g., marty_paper1.pdf).
- Papers must include a title page (or section), listing the name and number of the course, the name of the instructor, YOUR NAME, the name of the assignment, and the date you are handing it in.
- You are required to use headings and subheadings to make the organization of your paper clear to the reader. The main headings in your paper MUST correspond to the four main sections of the assignment itself, as listed above. You should then subdivide each section to reflect its content as necessary.
- Papers must be demonstrably spell-checked, grammar-checked, and proofread for nonsense; failure to do so will result in a lower grade.
Blog Posts (12 @ 2.5%)
Blog posts or comments will be required every week, starting the week of September 10. Please see the Blackboard site for information about logging into the class blog.
The required blog posts and comments have 2 primary purposes: (1) to encourage you to interact with each other and share your unique insights, examples, applications, and perspectives; and (2) to give you the opportunity to work ahead on the two major papers for this class in manageable parts.
- No blog post required during first week of class.
- Week of September 10. BLOG POST: Select and describe an information behavior from your life. This should be purely descriptive. Make it interesting; be colorful, specific, and realistic. 500 words. Post Category: Paper 1 Post 1. Due Sunday, September 16.
- Week of September 17. BLOG COMMENT: Respond to at least two other students' posts from the previous week, identifying and naming examples from their posts that demonstrate the concepts of information, information needs, information seeking, and information behavior. 200 words per comment. Due Sunday, September 23.
- Week of September 24. BLOG POST: Using the responses you received last week, plus the course readings and in-class discussions so far, discuss what your information behavior demonstrates about the information sources you use, your information needs, your information seeking, and your other information behavior(s). 500 words. Post Category: Paper 1 Post 2. Due Sunday, September 30.
- Week of October 1. BLOG COMMENT: Respond to at least two other students' posts from the previous week, identifying a model, paradigm, or theory (MPT) they might use to create a rich and fruitful analysis of their information behavior and explaining why you think this MPT would be useful. 200 words per comment. Due Sunday, October 7.
- Week of October 8. BLOG POST: Share an annotated citation to a published article, book, or book chapter that we did not already read for class that includes information about one of the models/paradigms/theories (MPT) you are using in your Paper 1. You might find where the MPT originator first explicated the MPT, or where they applied or revised it; or where another scholar applied or tested the MPT. The annotation should summarize the content and significance of the item in your own words, and should share what you learned about the MPT itself (not your info behavior) from this additional reading. 300 words. Post Category: Paper 1 Post 3. Due Sunday, October 14.
- Week of October 15. BLOG POST: Analyze your information behavior using the MPT you wrote about in the previous week's post. Your presentation of this analysis should be very linear and explicit, matching your own problems, needs, activities, behaviors, thoughts, sources, etc. directly to those in the MPT. 400 words. Post Category: Paper 1 Post 4. Due Sunday, October 21.
- Week of October 22. BLOG POST: Identify the population you want to write about for Paper 2. Try to be somewhat specific, and if possible, explain what aspect of this population's information behavior interests you. This is a short post, and you don't need to think about it or work on it until after your Paper 1 has been handed in! 200 words. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 1. Due Sunday, October 28.
- Week of October 29. BLOG POST: Annotated Bibliography, Part 1. Post citations to five (5) peer-reviewed published research articles that report research findings related to your population. Each citation should be a complete citation PLUS a brief (50 word) annotation explaining: (a) the theme(s) you see emerging from this item and (b) the major knowledge point about this population you took away from this item. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 2. Due Sunday, November 4.
- Week of November 5. BLOG POST: Annotated Bibliography, Part 2. Post citations to five (5) peer-reviewed published research articles that report research findings related to your population. Each citation should be a complete citation PLUS a brief (50 word) annotation explaining: (a) the theme(s) you see emerging from this item and (b) the major knowledge point about this population you took away from this item. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 2. Due Sunday, November 11.
- Week of November 19. BLOG POST: Share the major concepts, themes, and unanswered (or partially answered) research questions that emerged when you reviewed the research literature about your population. 400 words. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 3. Due Sunday, November 25.
- Week of November 26. BLOG POST: Last week you shared the major unanswered research questions(s) you found from analyzing the literature about your population. This week, describe and discuss a research study you would design to answer these question(s) in the future. What questions would you ask? What research methodologies would you use? How would you analyze the data you gather? 400 words. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 4. Due Sunday, December 2.
- Week of December 3. BLOG POST: Using examples from your chosen population, discuss some of the specific benefits (focusing where possible on benefits to the users) of applying research findings in real-life information settings (such as libraries). How might the research you reviewed improve our ability to provide information services to your population? 400 words. Post Category: Paper 2 Post 5. Due Sunday, December 9.
N.B. When you create your blog posts, make sure to select the appropriate category as listed above; otherwise, your blog post may get lost in the shuffle. You are also strongly encouraged to use tags to provide additional metadata that may be helpful.
Class Participation (13%)
Please note that class participation is required for everyone. This means you need to engage in the class discussion at least once, in class, each week. Please note that participation means making a meaningful contribution to an ongoing discussion; simply attending class or nodding along as another student talks does not count as participation.
You have two free passes for the semester -- no explanation needed -- and of course you won't be penalized for a legitimate, excused absence (just drop me an email explaining what is happening, before class if possible). Each week of non-participation (beyond the two free passes and excused absences) will subtract a point from your class participation grade.
Discussion Leading (7%)
Once during the semester, you will be assigned the responsibility for leading the in-class discussion of one journal article (not a Case chapter) during the week that reading is assigned. Assignments will be made ASAP once we get past drop/add and enrollment is steady.
Discussion leaders must be prepared to lead a brief discussion on this reading -- approximately 20 minutes in length -- with the rest of the class. This means coming up with questions that will engage the class in meaningful discussion -- not just summarizing the reading. Your goal is to facilitate a discussion that raises and attempts to answer interesting questions, explores deeply the concepts raised in the readings, and provides a *positive* learning environment for everybody.
A successful discussion leader will do five things:
- Present a brief summary of the article. For a research article, this should include the study's purpose, research question(s), theory/model used (if applicable), methods, and major findings.
- Prompt the class to discuss the significance of the article. Why are we reading it? What are the major take-away points from it?
- Prompt the class to discuss how this article relates to the Case book and other course readings as appropriate. Why are we reading this *now*? Why does it appear *here* in the syllabus?
- Prompt the class to discuss the implications of this article for practice. How might this article improve our jobs as information professionals? improve information services for users?
- Prompt the class to discuss the implications of this article for research. (what did you learn about things to do and not to do in doing research about information behavior? what are some questions that emerge as a result of this article that lead to further needed study?)
After the class discussion, please prepare a summary of the main points made, questions asked and/or answered, and discussions held. The summary should be approximately 250 words in length, and follow the basic outline provided above. This summary should be posted to the blog within 48 hours after the end of the session (Blog category: Discussion Summaries).
N.B. If you want to trade readings, that's fine with me -- but if you trade with someone, you need to let me know right away that you traded, with whom, and for which article. Everyone involved in the trade must email me personally to confirm the transaction!